When I was growing up, my mother trusted me with knives. I remember being allowed to cut mushrooms (my faaaavorite!) with a paring knife when I was five. As an adult, one thing I do (mostly) well in the kitchen is cutting stuff. I know my way around a chef’s knife pretty darn well, if I say so myself.
The other half and I have long made a game of ridiculing silly kitchen tools we see at the shopping mall. My favorite is the thing you use to cut avocados — you still have to cut the avocado in half with a knife to use it.
The thing about most of those tools is they take more work than actually getting out the stupid knife and just cutting the damn produce, especially when you take cleaning into account. Why use something specialized when a simple solution exists that you can use for many things?
But recently, the other half decided she wanted to buy a mandoline. After a brief discussion in the cooking store about whether or not this was a good idea, we bought it. I doubted very much it would actually get used.
And I was partly right, because aside from slicing a fennel bulb, I haven’t used it at all. My other half, however, has used it a lot. She uses it to cut vegetables for soup, to chop onions (“This way I don’t have to cry over them!”) — you name it.
This whole experience made me rethink my philosophy. I’ve come to realize that if it takes a mandoline to make someone excited to cook, well… why not? It reminds me of something I once saw in my brother’s Middle Eastern cookbook. According to this book, a food processor was a vital tool for making Middle Eastern food. The author said that, yes, you could make just about anything in the book with a mortar and pestle or what-have-you, but if people in Egypt a thousand years ago had food processors, you’d better believe they would have used them!
So I guess I’ll give my other half a free pass with the mandoline, so long as she doesn’t make me use it. But I’ll still laugh at you if you have a device that only cuts avocados.